Governmental Affairs New
The Senate Economic Development Committee reported our Main Street Fairness bills (Senate Bills 658 & 659) on Wednesday. The positive movement indicates the bills have support from leadership to continue
Note one, but two road funding options in play
Not to be outdone, both chambers have come up with their respective road funding solutions. In mid-November, the Michigan Senate passed a substitute version of HB 5477 that switches the current 19 cents per gallon fuel tax to a phased-in, flat, 15.5 percent tax on the wholesale price. Last night, the Michigan House approved a two-bill plan (HB 4539 & 5477) that phases out the Sales Tax on fuel over six years and switches the gas tax to a phased-in 13.5 percent wholesale tax on fuel. Both plans would raise about $1 billion in funds for roads, but it is still uncertain if one of the two plans or a new compromise will be approved before legislators head home in two weeks.
House readies local preemption on wages and benefits
The House is planning to report a bill (HB 5977) next week that will prohibit any local ordinance, resolution or policy regarding wages or benefits. The bill clarifies that regulations on wages and benefits are “outside the express implied authority” of local government entities. Prohibited regulations include the requirement of a local prevailing wage, minimum wage, paid sick leave or other benefits. An amendment to include scheduling in the list of prohibited regulations is also being considered. MRA supports the bill and the amendment to include scheduling.
The Department of Treasury is looking to place language into HB 4920 & 4921 to retroactively cap the half of 1 percent credit that accelerated Sales Tax filers (retailers who remit $720,000 or more in sales tax per year) can claim. Current law does not include a cap on the maximum credit a retailer can receive. The bills were reported from the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday without Treasury’s preferred language. MRA opposes any attempts to change the policy on credits.
Legislation that would authorize a pilot program to install anti-zapper devices on POS systems in retail
The House Agriculture Committee reported a bill on Tuesday that increases license fees for retail food locations. HB 5490 is a bill pushed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to move its reliance away from less reliable general fund dollars, increase staff within the Food and Dairy Division (specifically the Food and Dairy Safety Program) and improve technology for customers and staff. According to the department, license fees have not been adjusted since 2000 and this increase moves the program from being 26 percent fee supported to 37 percent fee supported. The following fees are increased under the bill: a free sale letter from $25 to $60 in 2015; a grocery fee from $67 to $134 in 2015, $160 in 2016 and $183 after 2016; extended retail establishment fees from $172 to $344 in 2015, $400 in 2016 and $468 in the years after.
Other important items to note:
Employer liability: The Senate approved legislation on Thursday that seeks to reduce employer liability concerns for hiring paroled felons (HB 5216-5218). The bills need concurrence by the House before they head to the governor’s desk.
Pet health regulations: HB 5095 passed the Michigan House 83-27 on Thursday. The bill requires additional pet health, safety, import and holding period requirements for large-scale breeders. MRA was successful in including exemption language for pet shops that hold adoption events into the definitions of animal control shelter and animal protection shelters. The bills impact the direct sale of dogs,
Federal emissions standards: On Tuesday the House Energy and Technology Committee approved legislation (SB 910) to prevent the Department of Natural Resources from enforcing the new federal emissions standards on woodstoves. MRA supports the legislation, since the new standards could impact both retailers and their customers.
Voluntary veteran preference: On Thursday the House approved HB 5418 to allow private employers to adopt a voluntary veteran’s preference employment policy to hire, promote or retain workers. Special rights for veterans are not subject to Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964.